More speed bumps? Not so fast

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 An interesting, thought-provoking letter by West-Ender Norm Sabin.

Montreal seems to have gone on a speed-bump blitz, with Walkley and Coronation Aves. being recent recipients.

Here’s what we know about speed bumps on residential streets: They slow emergency vehicles, can distract drivers from the road ahead, might increase emissions and are not free.

Given all the bad stuff, what are the benefits? Has there been a decrease in the number of accidents on residential streets? We need to make sure the pros outweigh the cons; otherwise, speed bumps create merely the illusion of safety, with real cost.

We need to fix our roads, not invest in big asphalt placebos.

Let the police deal with speeding. They know where the real danger is, and the tickets they issue protect the entire neighbourhood. They might even use photo radar here and there.

Speeding needs to be controlled, but cities need to do a careful risk-benefit analysis, street by street, before giving them the green light.

Norman Sabin, N.D.G.

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Letters: How about protecting English in Quebec, as well?

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Letters, Montreal Gazette, April 22, 2014

Re: “Large retailers should add French to signage” (Editorial, April 19)

Are you kidding? Just when the Quebec Superior Court says leave things as they are, The Gazette seems to want to take a big step backward and instigate the language issues once again.

Who complained? The newly formed government has more important things to do now than revisit the signage issues. The OQLF’s time should be up! The millions saved could be spent so much better on health, education, infrastructure, etc.

Businesses need to flourish, and in the language of the consumer. The fact is, English has been so diminished that many retailers have zero English signage outside or inside their stores, fail to print circulars or sales receipts bilingually. Shame on all those corporations for disrespecting my bilingual dollar and for disrespecting me as a customer.

I must add, Toys R Us saw fit to give back respect to its customers by putting back English signage as permitted under the provisions of the Charter of the French Language. The French language is protected in Quebec; isn’t it about time that the English language be protected as well?

I am quite surprised and disappointed that The Gazette, Montreal’s only English-language daily newspaper, is not more vigorous in supporting the anglophone community!

Ruth Kovac

Councillor

City of Côte-Saint-Luc

Letter: The Gazette should be advocating the dissolution of the OQLF

 

Re: “Large retailers should add French to signage” (Editorial, April 19)

Shame on The Gazette, Montreal’s only English-language daily newspaper, for once again letting us, the anglophone community down and for not showing us the respect we truly deserve. How disrespectful can you be by mentioning that large retailers should add French to signage? Instead of applauding the Superior Court judgment rendered by the Honourable Mr. Justice Michel Yergeau for applying the provisions of the Charter of the French Language (Bill 101) and congratulating such retail chains as Best Buy, Costco Wholesale, Old Navy and others who stood up for what is right and not caving in to the useless, harassing and bullying tactics of the Office québécois de la langue française, you went out of your way to agree with what the OQLF was attempting to achieve. I guess I should not be surprised if your next moves were to encourage the OQLF to seek appeal of the Superior Court judgment and to lobby the Liberal government to amend the provisions of Bill 101.

As Montreal’s only English-language daily newspaper, it would have been a step in the right direction to not only come out and encourage all retailers in Quebec, especially those in the Montreal, Laval and South Shore areas where there are a good number of anglophones, to post signs in both French and English as allowed by Bill 101, but also to encourage the Quebec Liberal government to dissolve the OQLF and use the millions of dollars saved on such useful projects as health care, infrastructure and the economy. Remember, English has not been banned under Bill 101 and English is not a disease, it happens to be one of the two official languages of Canada.

Harold Staviss

Representative of the Office Québecois de la Langue Anglaise (OQLA)

Hampstead

Another happy resident

5 Comments

It’s always nice to receive feedback. And in Cote Saint-Luc we’re pretty used to hearing from our constituents, good or bad. But it’s real nice when we hear positive comments describing how things worked out even better than expected. Our city prides itself in being customer service oriented and staff are trained to work with this goal in mind. This has been a priority set down by our mayor, Anthony Housefather, and adopted across all departments.

Here’s a letter we received this week. I’ve kept the name of the resident anonymous since I didn’t ask for permission to publicize.

In an era of controversy in municipal politics, I just wanted to provide some positive feedback to you and your teams, as the last 24 hours on Leger Avenue have been a little unusual.

Water works subcontractors work quickly to repair a leak in Cote Saint-Luc earlier this month

Water works subcontractors work quickly to repair a leak in Cote Saint-Luc earlier this month

As you may know, we experienced a water main break overnight between Wednesday and Thursday. As someone who deals with municipalities on an on-going basis in my work, I am very impressed with the communication and repair processes in place in CSL (for example: to wake up and already find the notices in our mailbox before 7 am, to be able to call public works and get updated, to the fact that the repair work was completed within 12 hours and then to see this morning that even paving was completed).

Please let your team members know that we appreciate the coordination and planning effort it takes to get this done so quickly. It makes me proud to live in CSL !

I know that it doesn’t always go quite as smooth as this, but you’d be surprised how often it does. I appreciate this feedback and I encourage you to drop a note if you have something to say as well. YOu can always find me here on this blog or on my Facebook page or on Twitter.

The city has taken the unusual step of sending a postcard last week to every home asking residents to follow us on a number of social media sites. This will enable better and quicker communications between your city and its residents. Please subscribe via the site of your choice.

CSL_follow_socail_media.jpg

Letter: Stop asking whether Montreal is a ‘French city’?

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Letter to the editor

Montreal Gazette, August 2,2013

Is Montreal a French city? This is not the right question.

The media should stop asking Montreal mayoral candidates “Is Montreal a French city?” The question is imprecise and allows the candidates to skate around the issue. Their pat answer is some formulation of: “Montreal is a French city. But bilingualism is a great asset to Montreal.”

What’s wrong with the question?

First, Montreal is not a “French city.” It is a Quebec city (or a Canadian city, or a North American city). France abandoned its former colony long ago. Yes, I’m being pedantic, but my goal is a clear question.

A more precise question would be “Is Montreal a French-speaking city.” But even this could be interpreted as a question related to census data.

What reporters really want to know is the candidate’s position on municipal services. The question they should be asking is: “Ought the municipal government of Montreal provide bilingual services to residents, without them having to ask for it.”

The question, asked in this way, leaves no room for misinterpretation. It’s not about identity or demographics, but about public policy, which is the business of elected leaders.

This is the question the media should be asking the Montreal mayoral candidates.

And voters should pay close attention to their answers.

Darryl Levine

Dollard-des-Ormeaux

© Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette

 

In my opinion:

Darryl Levine makes an excellent point. The fact is Montreal is not a French city having shed its colonial past hundreds of years ago. Another fact is that census figures show that Montreal is a very bilingual, indeed multilingual city – far from being uniquely a French-speaking city.

However, should residents of this multilingual city be entitled to receive services in one of two official languages? The answer is perfectly clear to anyone unshackled by Quebec political doublespeak.

Letter: Keep Meadowbrook for recreation

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Re: ‘Beautiful future’ proposed for site of golf course” (Gazette, April 24)

Meadowbrook is an 18-hole golf course completed after the Second World War. It was originally a private course for CP employees, but in 1970 was made a public course for all to enjoy. The front nine is in Lachine, the back nine in Côte St-Luc. The land is currently owned by Groupe Pacific and their intention is to turn it into a $150 million real estate bonanza.

Fortunately, the demand is not there because of market forces, the economy and geography. Côte St-Luc took has long realized Meadowbrook is a precious green space and has zoned it as a golf course. Bravo! Lachine is guided by the all-mighty dollar and has not closed the door to real estate. Shame! The Meadowbrook Golf Club leases the land on a seasonal basis and runs the course from spring to fall.

Most Montrealers agree Meadowbrook is a jewel that must be preserved. Building houses and condos is about the last thing that should be done, nor is there a need. For a landowner to even contemplate this option is an affront to our fragile ecology, and a disservice to future generations.

A recent article in the Gazette described plans to turn the golf course into a nature park. This would of course be paid for by governments whose debts are in the billions, and whose infrastructure is literally crumbling. The island of Montreal has many nature parks. Mount Royal, Cap St. Jacques, Angrignon, Lafontaine and the Botanical Gardens are some of the larger ones, with many smaller parks in every borough and suburb. As well, off-island there are many more beautiful parks only a short drive away. Do we really need another one at Meadowbrook, and is it worth spending millions of taxpayer dollars to build?

What’s wrong with keeping Meadowbrook as a golf course? The number of golf courses on the island has been decreasing steadily over the past 30 years, with only a handful left. Of recent, Dorval has been cut in half and the Challenger has disappeared. Per capita, Montreal probably has the lowest number of public golf courses of any large Canadian city. This is nothing to brag about for a city that prides itself on sport and recreation, nor for a population whose obesity rate is 25 per cent (BMI over 29) and diabetes rate 8 per cent, and both climbing. Golf courses are good for body and soul, and the environment.

As a golf course, Meadowbrook has seen better days. The course needs improvement and the clubhouse is barely hanging on. The Meadowbrook Golf Club is reluctant to invest the big bucks because it never knows its fate the following year. This cycle of neglect must be stopped.

Meadowbrook needs a new perennial vision of recreation, sport and health promotion. The golf course should remain, but much more can be done over the four seasons. Cross-country skiing, skating, fitness, theatre, bike paths and nature trails can all be worked into the fabric of Meadowbrook. Place for social activities and gatherings can be found, and weddings could be celebrated on a refreshing green space. A train station could be built, and the STM could stop there, too. The sky’s the limit for Meadowbrook, as long as government decides real estate will never be built. Let’s get Montreal and Quebec to make this commitment so that a great future can begin.

Norman Sabin

N.D.G.

© Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette

Read more: http://www.montrealgazette.com/business/Letter+Keep+Meadowbrook+recreation/8320576/story.html#ixzz2SEW7gdCM

In my opinion:

An excellent letter by Norm Sabin.  He presents a cogent and practical solution that benefits more than just golfers. The important element is to have the certainty that Meadowbrook will indeed be preserved as green space, as we have done on the Cote Saint-Luc side by zoning it golf course, long ago.

Opinion: Changes proposed by Bill 14 risk serious rights violations

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By Pearl Eliadis, Special to The Gazette April 18, 2013

MONTREAL – Last Friday, the Quebec Bar Association testified at legislative hearings in Quebec City on Bill 14, which proposes to amend several laws, including the French Language Charter, and impose new restrictions on (mainly) anglophone rights.

When I first wrote about Bill 14 last fall (Opinion, Dec. 11, “Bill 14 chips away at English minority rights”), I highlighted the bill’s proposed change in definition of “ethnic minorities” to the nebulous “cultural communities.” Other writers have discussed this as well. The proposed new term, in my view, is worrisome because it serves as prologue to a litany of substantive rights violations in the bill.

The Bar found more than a dozen of these, in a number of areas. Among them:

Jobs: Let’s say your employer hired you because she needs well-educated employees who speak two or more languages. After all, you work in the Montreal area, so you probably serve clients of different linguistic backgrounds. Under Bill 14, your employer would be obliged to “subsequently review such needs periodically” to justify not only your job, but also the job of every other employee whose skills in a language other than French were seen as an asset when they were hired. It does not matter how big or small the company is. If requiring a language other than French cannot be justified to the satisfaction of the language bureaucrats, your job or your promotion would be jeopardized. This applies even if you are fluent in French.

Public services: Bill 14 proposes to require communication with the provincial government in French, in order to obtain a licence, authorization, assistance, indemnity or any other benefit. Applications, then, would have to be made in French. All supporting documents would have to be in French, too. Otherwise, the government would insist on translating it, at your expense. This provision would create a disadvantage mainly for English speakers. If Bill 14 is passed, forget about English versions of driver’s licence forms, income-tax forms and other tax-related information, not to mention English versions of government websites, which are already inadequate. Then there is Bill 14’s proposed new passive right for government officials to be addressed solely in French. The corollary is that public servants would be entitled to refuse to even acknowledge anything said to them in English.

Health and social services: Under Bill 14, workers in health and social services would be able to demand full translation of files into French. Translation costs would be borne by the English-language health-care system. But what if there were a real emergency, and your file had to be transferred from the English-speaking system to a specialist in the French-speaking system? The English version of Bill 14 says that the person authorized to receive your documents may require “a quick rundown of their content” in French — and this, in addition to the full translation of the file. The French version of the bill can be interpreted as saying only a “quick rundown” would be required. The translation contradictions are not helpful. To be sure, there are perfectly valid reasons for wanting unilingual workers to understand what they are reading. However, Bill 14’s proposals would impose financial burdens on an already-beleaguered health system. (I am betting there was no consultation with the English system on this point).

Your child’s schooling: Let’s say you move. Or you want to transfer your child to another English school, for whatever reason. Education officials under Bill 14 would, in these cases, be entitled to disregard your child’s years of schooling to date if this schooling in English were obtained through “trickery,” deception or a “temporary artificial situation.” These terms are all undefined, and interpretation would be left to the discretion of bureaucrats.

These are but a few examples of what awaits us if Bill 14 is passed. The bill promises years of litigation and legal instability.

Who will pay? For starters, the taxpayer.

The Quebec Bar Association’s brief, which highlights the legally problematic aspects of Bill 14, should be reassuring to anyone who believes that the rule of law should prevail regardless of one’s mother tongue or home language.

Protecting French is a legitimate political objective. But Bill 14 goes too far, and risks becoming a launch pad for multiple legal challenges that will further damage Quebec’s reputation.

Pearl Eliadis is a Montreal human-rights lawyer. She was part of the legal advisory team for the African Canadian Legal Clinic of Toronto, an intervenor in the Whatcott case. She teaches civil liberties at McGill University.

© Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette

Globe and Mail letters: Linguistic purity

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Globe and Mail, Letters, Jan. 18, 2013.  Click to enlarge.

Globe and Mail, Letters, Jan. 18, 2013. Click to enlarge.

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